Slack Time and Innovation

28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015 Last revised: 30 May 2015

See all articles by Ajay Agrawal

Ajay Agrawal

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christian Catalini

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; Calibra, Inc.; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2015

Abstract

The extant literature linking slack time to innovation focuses on how slack time facilitates creative activities such as ideation, experimentation, and prototype development. We turn attention to how slack time may enable activities that are less creative but still important for innovation, namely mundane, execution-oriented tasks. First, we document the main effect: a sharp rise in innovative projects posted on a major crowdfunding platform when colleges are on break. Next, we report timing and project type evidence consistent with the causal interpretation that slack time drives innovation. Finally, we present a series of results consistent with the mundane task mechanism but not with the traditional creativity-related explanations. We do not rule out the possibility that creativity benefits from slack time. Instead, we introduce the idea that mundane, execution-oriented tasks, such as those associated with launching a crowdfunding campaign (e.g., administration, planning, promotion), are an important input to innovation that may benefit significantly from slack time.

Suggested Citation

Agrawal, Ajay and Catalini, Christian and Goldfarb, Avi, Slack Time and Innovation (April 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21134. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2602117

Ajay Agrawal (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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Christian Catalini

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

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Cambridge, MA MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty-directory/detail/?id=58777

Calibra, Inc.

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Menlo Park, CA 94025
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Avi Goldfarb

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada
416-946-8604 (Phone)
416-978-5433 (Fax)

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